Why affix words? Words have dreams, just like people do. Once a noun, always a noun isn’t true. In the hands of a word surgeon, words can be affixed, even if they are not broken. Affixes can be the wings that turn a noun into a verb. Yes, some of these surgeries go bad; untrained business people take nouns and make verbs that are like pigeons in a park: they’re annoying and do little more than whiten the statues. However, sometimes affixing a noun can make it a better noun or transform it into a real, live person. Imagine a world without Bach, Mozart, Elvis, or Jerry Lee Lewis. Where would we be without word surgeons! (Full disclosure: I am a word surgeon.)
Back in the late 1600s, an Italian named Bartolomeo Cristofori had a lot of time on his hands, so he invented the piano. Although it was beautiful to look at, there was one problem: no one could play it because there wasn’t a word for a person like that. Don’t believe me? Look up the word “piano.” I hope you are convinced now. “Piano” means “quiet.” It sat there, strung out, silent, with its ivories untickled by human hands.
One day, an Italian word surgeon (much like myself except that I’m actually American), Mortadella Datsa Bologna, came over to visit Cristofori and asked about the large piece of furniture sitting in the middle of the room. Cristofori, tried to hide his flummoxity, and said it was supposed to be a musical instrument, but that there was no one to play it, so it remained as mute as a table top. Mute and quiet.
The word-maestro went home, worked through the night, surgically removing the “o” from “piano” and adding the suffix “-ist.” In this way, Bologna invented the pianist. The timing was perfect for Cristofori, his staff rejoiced, his income trebled, and he became a key player in the world of musical instruments. Interestingly, one of Bologna’s descendants, Liberace (Italian through his father’s side) was born in Wisconsin. I live in Wisconsin. I am a word-maestro and often refer to myself as an Italian word surgeon. Maybe I am related to Bologna, or as Wisconsinites say, Baloney.
(Note to reader: This is not the post I intended to type today. I think there is something wrong with my keyboard. Today’s post has not been posted but will appear tomorrow. Please consider this post as tomorrow’s post that has already been posted. Thank you for understanding.)